Posts Tagged ‘teen drama’

When Did They?

Last night, my 18-year-old daughter walked into my room wearing a backless, red velvet evening gown. She stood in front of the cherry wood swivel mirror, admiring and critiquing the color and style, idly tugging at the material in an attempt to make it fit better. She walked back and forth, twirled, stood with her back to the mirror,  and asked what I thought.

What I thought was, “Oh my God, she’s a woman.”

Of course I already knew this, but this was one of those pivotal moments where it hit me with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

One of the things I’ve recognized about being a parent is that you see the passage of time through your children. As Reb Tevye sings in Fiddler on the Roof, “I don’t remember growing older, when did they?”

The thing that made this moment even more powerful was the fact that the dress she wore belongs to me.  There she was, beautiful, with curves and everything, wearing one of the sexiest gowns I own.

Isn’t having a grown-up daughter something that only happens to other people?

Many of my recent posts have been related to feelings of sadness and transition, in part because my children are now young adults and my role as Mom has all but disappeared. But with every hurdle cleared, I’m closer to letting go, and more proud than nostalgic. I’m seeing clearly how well I’ve done as a parent, because the reality is, I’ve raised two exceptional human beings.

And perhaps as importantly, I appreciate the freedom that accompanies having children who cook their own food, do their own homework, and drive themselves to school.

Actually, on most days, life’s pretty bitchin’.

So, this Saturday night, my daughter will attend her Senior Prom, wearing my velvet dress, inking a significant page in her personal history. 

As I watched her glide around the room, marveling at her youthful beauty, I envisioned the day when she’ll longingly think back on this prom weekend as she watches her daughter model her sexiest gown.

Even though that day will be years from now, it’ll be here as fast as you can sing Sunrise, Sunset.


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"Breaking" Stories

"The troubles of adolescence eventually all go away – it’s just like a really long, bad cold."  — Dawn Ruelas

Think back to when you were 17 – remember how powerful and all-consuming the feeling of infatuation was?  It is for adults, too, but there’s something particularly fervent about adolescent love (drama drama drama!)

Teens enter into (and adios) many romantic relationships before they reach adulthood.  At this age, emotion is King. They fall in love in a matter of minutes and out by the end of the week. Even though it’s all part of the learning process, I still shudder when I get the frustrated text from my teen that says, "I am SO done with him!"

Everything seems laced with drama during the teenage years. I’ve already had a front-row seat to a dozen breakups, and my oldest isn’t even 18! Sometimes it can be hard to be truly supportive; while no parent wants to see their child in pain, most of us know that teenage love simply doesn’t last and adolescent breakups are a fact of life.

When faced with my kids’ latest soap opera, to help them weather the storm I make every effort to:

LISTEN. I encourage them to talk about what they’re feeling. I’ve always believed it’s better to express powerful emotions than to suppress them (better out than in!) The most important and meaningful thing I can do for my teenagers is to be quiet and listen to what they’re saying, and perhaps as importantly, for what they’re not saying.

ASK QUESTIONS about what they’re thinking and feeling. This shows I support and care about them and gives them a safe place to clarify their thoughts. I do NOT tell them to "just get over it". This could seriously backfire and communicate to them that their feelings are not valid.

BE POSITIVE and remind them that I understand it feels as if the world is coming down around their ears, but in time it will get easier (my favorite mantra is "This Too Shall Pass"). Sometimes I suggest they write down what they might do differently next time, and what they learned from this relationship (though this is often adamantly nixed by my daughter, who hates homework).

ENCOURAGE them to spend quality time with their friends, preferably of the same gender. Peers provide the best emotional support because they speak the same language. It’s one thing for Mom or Dad to commisserate and soothe, but it’s another entirely for your BFF to tell you it’s going to be okay and that he wasn’t good enough for you anyway! Laughter with friends is the best medicine.

REASSURE them that this is the time in their lives they’re supposed to be dating lots of different people! That’s not to say that they won’t have some longer-term relationships, or that there’s no such thing as a high school romance becoming a lifelong commitment, but these relationships are usually the exception and not the rule.

REMIND them that they’re not a failure and there will be many relationships in their future. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard "I’ll NEVER find someone to love me like he did!" Gimme a break! Still, without being gushy (one of my pet peeves), I try to get them to focus on their positive characteristics and remind them of how much they are loved by their friends and family.

BE PATIENT. Breakups can be gut-wrenching, particularly during adolescence.  Even if you can clearly see the reasons behind the final break (or are secretly relieved because you never liked the guy in the first place), keep in mind this is VERY REAL for your teenager. When I feel myself getting impatient, I try to remember this point and treat their feelings with respect and compassion.

I also offer lots of hugs and encourage spending time with Mother Nature. After a breakup, I remind my daughter that a hike in a beautiful place can really cure what ails you.

And if all else fails, I hand them a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and just step out of the way.


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Who Are You and What Have You Done With My Kid?

“I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: ‘Checkout Time is 18 years.'” — Erma Bombeck

I heard one of my favorite parenting stories years ago while listening to an interview with a famous actress. She was asked whether or not she was afraid, now that she had a child, that her choice of career would cause emotional “damage” to her daughter and was she at all insecure about blending motherhood and career?

The actress replied, “I once knew a woman who conquered her fears of being a good parent by purchasing a piggy bank for her son at a very young age. Each time she did something she felt might not have been the best parenting choice, she put $.25 in the bank.”

“When her son turned 18, she handed him the bank and said, ‘Here, this is for therapy. I did the best I could.'”

From the moment our kids enter the world, we love and adore them like nobody else. Our children are miraculous, perfect little beings – extensions of ourselves walking around outside our bodies. Everything they do is cute, cuddly, and perfect. Ain’t parenthood grand?

Yeah. Then they turn 13. 

And 14…15…and (gasp) just when you thought you had it all under control, they’re driving! If you don’t recognize the angry, mercurial child who’s recently been living under your roof, welcome to the World of Parenting A Teen.

I love my teenagers with my entire being. My 17-year-old daughter is one of my closest friends, and I respect her opinions on many things. My 15-year-old son is one of the most confident, happy, and academically gifted kids I’ve ever known.  I know in my heart that I’m a good parent – loving, supportive, (though sometimes too “mushy” if you ask my kids) and I try to strike a healthy balance between being too permissive and being unreasonable (that there’s a blog post in itself).

However, even with the knowledge that my parenting is better than average (though far from perfect), sometimes a word, a look, or a gesture from one of my teenagers can seriously knock me off center, causing me to “adios” all previous opinions of my sweet children through the nearest window. Who are these people? Where did I go wrong? Who drew this target on my back?

Well, have no fear! Your children are still with you, though they’ll only appear when they’re sick (Momma, make me some tea! *cough*) or need money (Momma, you’re the best! About that $20 you were going to give me?)

The good news is, if you’ve done your job right, they’re growing into interesting, independent, fascinating adults. Step back sometime and listen to your conversations with your teen. What do they value? What are their interests? Are they kind, compassionate people?

The answers to these questions probably won’t be clear for a long time. The secret to surviving parenting a teen is to understand that this is a time when they’re SUPPOSED to be separating from you; they’re SUPPOSED to be spending more time with their friends than at home with the family and SUPPOSED to be exploring (and yes, questioning) the belief systems they’ve grown up with. Their job is to discover who they are in relation to the rest of the world, and ours is to coach and monitor their progress while loving them as best we can (some days this will be easier than others).

To quote my dear ol’ Dad, “Children grow up in spite of their parents.”  They’re going to be who they are, and we as parents can only love and guide them as best we can. Remember – we’re not the only influential people they will meet during their first 18 years!

It’s my fervent hope that this website will bring solace and comfort to confused and anguished parents of teens, and help prepare those of younger children and “tweens” for what’s around the corner. You can do this! With the occasional help of a teen/parent support group and lots of time spent commisserating with fellow parents, I know we’ll all make it over the “hump” to their happy, healthy, independent adulthood.

And if they never get there, we did our best, right?